Indian-origin man jailed in Singapore for coughing at others while he was Covid-infected

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Singapore, 19 Sep 2023: A 64-year-old Indian-origin man has been jailed for two weeks in Singapore for deliberately coughing at his colleagues while he was infected with Covid-19 in 2021, a media report said.


Tamilselvam Ramaiya, who worked as a cleaner, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of breaching a COVID-19 regulation by failing to wear a mask that covered his nose and mouth while outside his home, the Channel News Asia reported.


The court heard that after reporting for work on the morning of October 18, 2021, he told the assistant logistics manager that he was feeling unwell, and was told to take an antigen rapid test.


After testing positive for COVID-19, he was instructed to return home. But Tamilselvam went to the company’s logistics office to inform the assistant logistics manager about his COVID-19 test result.


Tamilselvam entered the office with a company driver who did not know about the positive test result.


The first victim, a 40-year-old logistics supervisor who knew Tamilselvam’s test result, told the driver not to go near him.


The supervisor also asked him to leave the office and made a gesture mimicking kicking him out.


Tamilselvam walked to the door but turned back to cough twice into the office with his mask on, the news report said, adding that all his acts were captured on the closed-circuit television camera installed in the office.


The supervisor closed the office door, but Tamilselvam opened it. He lowered his mask to uncover his nose and mouth and coughed into the office a third time before leaving.


While Tamilselvam was leaving, he passed by a window with a 56-year-old clerk, a dialysis patient, on the other side of the glass in the logistics office.


While, none of them contracted COVID-19 from the incident, the assistant logistics manager of the company lodged a police report over the incident.


During investigations, Tamilselvam said he had coughed at his colleagues as "a joke". He said he did not treat his positive result seriously and visited the polyclinic to confirm if he had contracted COVID-19.


Asking for a three-four weeks jail for Tamilselvam, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana said the incident was "no laughing matter".


She said Tamilselvam had disobeyed express instructions to leave the premises, returning instead to cough deliberately at his colleagues at a time when Singapore was experiencing a fresh surge of COVID-19 cases.


For flouting a COVID-19 regulation, Tamilselvam could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to SG$10,000, or both.



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